Detour ahead: State Road 11 to close for a month this summer

Local officials and first responders are preparing for a month-long closure of State Road 11 this summer, with construction crews attempting to minimize traffic disruptions and to avoid affecting this year’s Bartholomew County 4-H Fair. From June 1 to July 1, a quarter-mile stretch of State Road 11 between State Road 46 and Garden City is scheduled to be closed as crews perform road work on State Road 11 for the railroad overpass project on the city’s west side. The estimated £35 million project, which is being jointly funded by the Indiana Department of Transportation, city of Columbus, Bartholomew County, Cummins Inc. and the Louisville and Indiana and CSX railroads, will allow motorists to avoid being stopped by railroad traffic on at the intersection of State Road 46 and State Road 11.

During the closure, existing pavement on State Road 11 will be ripped out and replaced and new drainage structures will be added, said INDOT spokeswoman Natalie Garrett.

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Milestone Contractors says crews are maintaining the construction schedule for the railroad overpass project at State Road 46 and State Road 11. Submitted photoDetour ahead: State Road 11 to close for a month this summerAn aerial view of construction on the railroad overpass in Columbus, Ind., Thursday, Jan.

23, 2020. Photo submitted by Milestone Submitted photoDetour ahead: State Road 11 to close for a month this summerThe city of Columbus has released this map of the unofficial local detour for this summer when State Road 11 closes for a month for railroad overpass construction.

The official INDOT detour around the road closure follows Interstate 65 between Exit 55 in Seymour and Exit 68 in Columbus. The unofficial detour for individuals who normally would take State Road 11 to and from Columbus will be West County Road 200S to Terrace Lake Road to West Goeller Blvd. Submitted photo

Workers will also install new guardrail signage and pavement markings along State Road 46, but may be completed after the road is reopened.

“The end result will be two thru lanes with paved shoulders and turn lanes for access to the new State Road 46 alignment,” Garrett said. Nathan Gaskill, project manager at Milestone Contractors, said the window of opportunity to perform the work is “tight” but is confident everything will be done on time. ‘Tight’ margin of error

The road closure, however, has raised concerns about the potential impact on motorists and first responders and access to the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds. State Road 11 is expected to reopen by July 1 — 10 days before the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair, which is scheduled from July 10 to 18. “We need a good 30-day period without much rain,” said city engineer Dave Hayward. “…We’ve known this was coming since midway through the (project) design.

Everyone was scratching their heads, saying ‘We’ve got to do this sometime.’ We said, ‘Here’s your opportunity. As soon as school’s out, get out there and start working and be done by the time the county fair starts.’ Otherwise, there’s not a window of opportunity to do it.” According to current plans, motorists will not be able to drive south on State Road 11 from the intersection with State Road 46 during the closure.

Motorists would not be able to access the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds from the north during the closure and would instead have to cross or will be limited to the south or west via West County Road 200S. The official INDOT detour around the road closure follows Interstate 65 between Exit 55 in Seymour and Exit 68 in Columbus, Garrett said. The unofficial detour for individuals who normally would take State Road 11 to and from Columbus will be West County Road 200S to Terrace Lake Road to West Goeller Blvd., according to an agreement dated Feb.

28 between the city of Columbus and INDOT. County fair officials say if the road work isn’t completed before the fair, the impact on the county fair and the thousands of people who are projected to attend, could be severe. “If it gets into fair time, it will pretty much do us in,” said Mark Case, president of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Board. “…It’ll make it difficult for us, let’s put it that way, especially with the carnival coming in.”

Burton Brothers Amusement, which provides the rides and attractions at the county fair, will likely have to transport its equipment to the fairgrounds via U.S.

31 and Southern Crossing or take Interstate 65 to State Road 58, Case said. Fair officials and the fair board will coordinate with state and local officials in case they need to make a contingency plan, Case said. “It’s just going to take longer for people to get there,” Case said. “We’ll make it work.”

First responders Columbus police and firefighters and the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department are planning to start pinning down travel routes and how to respond to potential emergencies that would ordinarily require first responders to use State Road 11. Currently, it is unclear to what extent emergency vehicles will be able to access State Road 11 from the intersection of State Road 46 during the closure.

The Columbus Police Department has been part of discussion related to the closure, said spokesman Lt. Matt Harris. “I know there has been conversation about it,” Harris said. “…It’s very much being discussed and worked through at this time.

We want to have a plan in place well before construction begins.” “As it gets closer to that date, we’ll have more concrete information to share with the public,” Harris added. Bartholomew County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Maj.

Chris Lane said it is likely the State Road 11 closure will be an inconvenience to sheriff deputies and everyone else, “but it is ultimately for the better good.” It is unlikely the closure will affect regular sheriff department patrols, Lane said, although that could depend on where the calls originate. Deputies have assigned patrol areas and the department tries to make sure a deputy is in a different part of the county at all times.

Deputies will be using the same detours as the general public, he said. And after the overpass project is done, the deputies too will benefit from not having to worry about a train blocking State Road 46 and State Road 11 several times a day. The Columbus Fire Department also expects to start preparing for the road closure, said Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Columbus Fire Department.

Columbus firefighters typically respond to traffic accidents on State Road 11 south of State Road 46 until W. County Road 200S, Wilson said. Residential areas in and around State Road 11 between State Road 46 and Dawson Street, just north of Deaver Road, are in the jurisdiction of the Columbus Township Fire Department.

The Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department typically handles calls to residential areas south of Dawson Street. “(Columbus Engineering Department) will advise us of what the plan will be and from that point, we’ll work with engineering and contract companies to determine how we will be able to access those areas,” Wilson said. “You still have residential homes that need to be protected. …I’m sure there will be discussions in the coming days.”

Where to find more information

The official Indiana Department of Transportation detour around the road closure follows Interstate 65 between Exit 55 in Seymour and Exit 68 in Columbus. The unofficial detour for individuals who normally would take State Road 11 north to and from Columbus will be West County Road 200S to Terrace Lake Road to W.

Goeller Boulevard

Visit columbusrailroadproject.org for more information about the railroad overpass project.

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